'Microsoft Professional Degree' Pilot Program Launches

  • Get more news from WPC 2016 here.

Microsoft is testing out a new training and certification program aimed at professionals who want to deepen their knowledge of emerging technologies like Big Data and Internet of Things (IoT).

The Microsoft Professional Degree (MPD) program was announced Wednesday at the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) by Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft's corporate vice president and chief evangelist. Guggenheimer took the WPC stage to deliver a keynote presentation that centered on partner opportunities in "disruptive" technologies. Guggenheimer touted the MPD program as a way for professionals with general STEM backgrounds to gain technical experience in those technologies, including IoT, Big Data and analytics.

"If I have a math professional or somebody from a STEM background ... who's used programming in university, most likely, but isn't an expert in an area, we want to help create an opportunity and a degree system for those professionals to get deep into a specific area," Guggenheimer said.

Microsoft is currently piloting the MPD program with about 900 students, the first of whom will graduate in September, according to Guggenheimer. The curriculum is a mix of video and online learning, self-learning, testing and mentorship, he said.

The first subject area in which MPD program students can be certified is data science. The MPD program Web site describes the Data Science module this way:

Microsoft consulted Data Scientists and the companies that employ them to identify the requisite core skills. We then developed a curriculum to teach these functional and technical skills, combining highly rated online courses with hands-on labs, concluding in a final capstone project. Graduates earn a Microsoft Professional Degree in Data Science -- a digitally sharable, résumé-worthy credential.

The Data Science curriculum comprises 10 courses. Enrollees must purchase a "Verified Certificate" after passing each course in order to receive credit toward an MPD. Pricing for each Verified Certificate varies; the introductory Data Science course costs $25, while the rest are either $49 or $99. However, those who want to take the classes but are not interested in receiving an MPD certificate can audit the courses for free.

Guggenheimer explained that the MPD program is designed to help professionals with expertise in a specific industry to expand their technical chops. "We think this will help someone, for example, who has a math background but hasn't used all the tools with cognitive services and the R language to become proficient in using those tools," he said.

Currently, the MPD program pilot is available only in English, though Microsoft is offering it worldwide. Guggenheimer said Microsoft is looking to add other technologies to the MPD program curriculum.

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for, and


  • The 2020 Microsoft Product Roadmap

    From the next major update to Windows 10 to the next generations of .NET and PowerShell, here's what's on tap from Microsoft this year.

  • 2020 Microsoft Conference Calendar: For Partners, IT Pros and Developers

    Here's your guide to all the IT training sessions, partner meet-ups and annual Microsoft conferences you won't want to miss. (Now updated with COVID-19-related event changes.)

  • Curvey Stone Steps Graphic

    Microsoft Makes Run at 5G, Edge Computing with Azure Edge Zones

    Microsoft is promising to enable new edge computing scenarios for partners and developers with Azure Edge Zones, which became available as a preview this week.

  • Microsoft's Entire 2020 Event Lineup Going 'Digital-First'

    In response to concerns about the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Microsoft is transitioning all of its big conferences in 2020 to be online only.

RCP Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.